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January 5, 2013


Google+ Communities – Public or Private for the Classroom?

g+When Google first opened up the Google+ Communities option, I thought it was a great idea, especially for classes. But then I started thinking about how that would work with a class, and now I’m not so sure it will work for my purposes. Don’t get me wrong. Google+ Communities are a great addition to the social network. It’s just not going to work with how I want to use Google+.

I posted yesterday about how I’ve used it, but essentially I wanted it to be a place for my students to blog about what they are reading, writing and researching. The topic, food waste/sustainability is a hot topic right now, and the whole purpose of having students study this topic is to make more people aware of the problems we have. So why not get students blogging and sharing information about this issue and problem. However, because it is a class, I want to give students the option to keep their work private if they choose. Moving my current set up to a Google+ Community may not allow me to do both.

Let’s start with a bit of information on how Communities work. When you set up a community, you must decide if you’d like it to be public (i.e.anyone can find, join and post) or private (i.e. only invited members can join and see what is shared). In a “private” Community you are not able to tag or mention someone (e.g. + or @) that is not in your Community. So if I want to give students the option to post privately (to class only) or publicly (which I highly encourage), I can’t use a Community. Do you see why? It’s one or the other. Whereas in G+ using just circles, students have a choice. They can share a post by tagging others not in the class or just posting to Public along with posting to the class circle.

You might think that students could still choose to post something to a private Community and Publicly at the same time, but no can do. Here’s the message that pops up.

Screen shot 2013-01-05 at 6.50.51 PM

For now, I think I’ll just have to stick with circles. I like the idea of communities, and I may find a use for one later. I also want to go back and take a second look at pages. I think they still have G+ pages. Might be another 30in30 post coming soon if they do.


  1. Jan 23 2013

    Great post. Yep, this post settles it for me: I’m sticking with Circles. If I understand things correctly, you also can’t as easily chat or hang out with people in a community…or filter your stream by a community…or post as flexibly with a community…or set notifications as specifically with a community. Thank you again.

    The only challenge is making sure that all students circle all other students in the class.

    • soul4real
      Jan 23 2013

      Mark, for the most part you are correct. I did notice that you still have flexibility with posting to a community. You can post to a community from all the same places you can post to friends or circles.

      As far as students circling other students, you can make that easy by first creating the circle and then sharing it. I have every student in the class add me to a random circle in their G+. That way they then show up in my “Recently Added/Not Yet in Circles” list in the Circles area. I then create a circle with all of the students and then share the circle with the class. All they have to do is click a link to add that shared circle to their circle. (Did I write that in the post already? Oh well)

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